As some of you may already know, EteRNA is expecting a groundbreaking change in the very core of the lab. Until now we could only synthesized 16 sequences every 2 weeks. However, Das lab (biology side creators of EteRNA) at Stanford University is developing a major breakthrough which would allow us to synthesize 20,000 sequences every month. This would mean that basically EVERYONE could get at least 20 RNA sequence synthesized each month if 1000 people participate in the lab.
We are planning 3 major updates along with the change
- Massive RNA lab puzzles
With so many synthesis slots available, it wouldn’t be the best idea to use entire 20,000 synthesis for solving 1 lab puzzle at a time as we do now. Instead, we’ll ask research labs around the world and YOU to propose your own RNA lab puzzle and use synthesis slots. Every month 20,000 synthesis slots will be distributed to every active lab puzzle. For example if you have a specific shape of RNA you want to try synthesize, you could propose it as a lab puzzle - you’ll soon be assigned synthesis slots, and you can submit any sequences you want to get them synthesized.
- synthesis database
Every synthesis result from every lab puzzle will be publicly available. We’ll deploy a database and appropriate interface in which you can search/review experimental results. You’ll be able to search synthesis results by sequences, secondary structures, and in many other metrics.
We’ll provide a scripting interface with which you can design your own computer algorithms for solving puzzles, designing good lab submissions, scoring lab submissions …whatever you want to do. (This is a generalized version of “Strategy Market” in which algorithms were limited to scoring lab submissions.) Scripting itself will be a fairly expert feature since it requires programming skills, but we’ll develop a way for players to share scripts so that everyone can benefit from the expert effort.
As we are planning these massive changes to the game, there remain many important questions that are yet to be answered, and we would love to hear our players’ opinions.
- What will a lab puzzle look like?
Now that everyone can submit their own lab puzzle, what will it look like? Should each lab be public so that everyone can participate and submit sequences? or should it be private so that only the puzzle owner can submit a sequence?
If a lab puzzle can be public, how do we pick sequences for synthesis from each lab? Does the owner of the project decide which sequences get synthesized…or do we still want to keep voting interface in each lab?
Can other players review/rate the project? If so, what would be the best way to represent them? Also, can more than 1 players be co-admins of 1 lab project?
How do we know when a lab puzzle is done? Does the puzzle owner decide that?
- How do we allocate synthesis slots?
Say we have 2,000 active lab puzzles. How do we assign 20,000 synthesis slots to those lab puzzles? We could just evenly distribute 10 slots per each lab - but is there a better way to do it? Is there a way that we allocate more synthesis slots to those who are good and can make more efficient usage out of the slots? If so, is it possible to still give newbies a chance to get synthesis slots?
One idea we had was we could again entirely leave this to the community. If we have 1000 lab members, we could simply give 20 synthesis slots to each person, and everyone can decide how they will ‘donate’ their synthesis slots to projects. This is as transparent we can get with the resource allocation, but will share same cons with the current voting method.
Another idea is we come up with an resource allocation algorithm that will consider lab puzzle owners’ performances, current community rating of each lab projects, number of submissions in each process, etc and automatically decide allocation. The obvious downside is that this process is not transparent, and we have no idea what kind of things the algorithm needs to consider at this point. However, if we tune the algorithm well, it would be perfectly objective allocator which could maxmize the outcome.
- Lab rewards?
What is the best way to reward players for creating/pariticipating in lab projects? Until now, everyone got rewarded for submitting/voting in the lab, even if the designs they submitted/voted for did not get synthesized. This turned the lab rewards to be more like a weekly income that is not as exciting as it should be. Perhaps the lab rewards should be big/hard to earn such that good lab players can easily climb up the rank and the entire rankboard has more dynamic movements. On the other hand, the lab rewards shouldn’t be to hard to earn as new players might get scared away.
These are some of the main issues that the dev team has been actively discussing lately.
Let us know what you think!